The main way to get to Vancouver Island and Victoria is via, BC Ferries (+1 888 223 3779) which operates a ferry from Tsawwassen (south of Vancouver) to Swartz Bay, a half hour drive north of Victoria. Travel costs are currently $51.50 per regular sized passenger vehicle (not including the driver) and $15.60 per driver or adult passenger (12 years and over) one way. Children between the ages of 5 and 11 are $7.25. Children under the age of 5 are free.
Payment can be made by cash or credit card, and debit cards can be used at an automatic ticket terminal for foot passengers, but not on the ferry or at the vehicle toll booths. Service runs on the odd hours between 7AM and 9PM during the winter (with extra sailings at busier times) and every hour during the summer. The ferry ride is 1 hour and 35 minutes. Reservations are not required but recommended during peak travel times, including weekends throughout the summer months. There is a $15 charge for reservations made 7 days in advance; $17.50 if less than 7 days. Vehicles without a reservation sometimes have to show up a few hours before they can actually board (there can be multiple sailing waits during peak travel times), so make sure that you check their website to see what the wait is, and make sure that you allow plenty of time to catch your sailing; as the ferry's capacity is usually limited by the amount of space on the car decks, foot passengers can usually get on if they show up 15-20 minutes before their sailing.
Foot passengers can easily take public transit from Vancouver to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal and from the Swartz Bay ferry terminal to Victoria:
Other ways to get to Victoria by boat:
Victoria is a popular destination for boaters from the U.S.A. as well as the Vancouver area. The trip is a long one; the leg across the Strait of San Juan de Fuca from Puget Sound is over 50km. Because of frequent gales and small craft warnings, the boating trips may be rough, and the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority has a "no one turned away policy".
While Victoria is on an island, it is accesible from the rest of the island by roads and from the mainland by taking one of the car ferries described in By boat. Victoria is connected to Nanaimo and other northern points by the Trans-Canada Hwy 1. BC-4 connects Victoria to Sooke and Port Renfrew. BC-17 connects Sidney (and Vancouver via BC ferries) to Victoria. You can also bring your car on the Black Ball ferries to Port Angeles, WA and the Washington state ferries from Sidney to the San Juan Islands and Anacortes, WA.
Each year, from April through October, over 200 large cruise ships dock at the Ogden Point cruise ship terminal, with berths for three cruise ships and about 2.5km southwest of the downtown inner harbor, and disembark more than one-third million visitors to the greater Victoria area. Ogden Point is a transit port for cruise ships, typically coming from or going to San Francisco or Seattle, i.e., no cruise ship is home ported at Victoria.
To get to downtown Victoria from Ogden Point, cruise ship visitors have many options: take a pleasant 30-minutes walk through the James Bay residential area (Dallas St. along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, then north on Menzies St.), hop on ($2.25) the public bus #30 or #31 that runs along Dallas St., use the Cruise Victoria shuttle at the terminal, or hail a taxi/limo lined up at the pier.
Bus companies travel to Victoria from Vancouver (including Vancouver International Airport), Seattle and from other points on Vancouver Island. Buses travelling to Vancouver Island use BC Ferries, so you still get to enjoy the ferry ride. Some bus companies will make announcements on the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay ferry inviting foot passengers to purchase bus tickets for the ride into Victoria. This option is faster than the public transit option noted above, but also more expensive.
Victoria International Airport is located 30 minutes north of Victoria (off the Pat Bay Highway, on the way to the ferry terminal).
Public transit from Victoria International to the city is not that great (routes 79 and 83 go there but infrequently), but the AKAL Airport Shuttle Bus picks you up from the airport and takes you many downtown hotels (tel 1-877-386-2525, 45 minutes one-way, adults $15).
You can also get into Victoria quickly and easily from Vancouver by either helicopter or floatplane. Helicopters into the city operate from Vancouver Harbour or Vancouver International Airport (YVR) by Helijet with prices from $119 each way, this will take you into the center of Victoria. Floatplanes land in Victoria Inner Harbour (YWH), just meters from the Fairmont Empress Hotel and the BC Parliament buildings. Canadian floatplane operators include West Coast Air, Harbour Air and Sea to Sky Air, all of which operate from Vancouver Harbour, with prices at $99-190 each way. There is a new floatplane terminal in operation just outside the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) with a shuttle service operated by Harbour Air. Harbour Air has also introduced seasonal service from Whistler to Victoria Inner Harbour. Daily scheduled floatplane service to the Inner Harbour is also available year round from downtown Seattle's Lake Union on Kenmore Air. Fares, which include complimentary shuttle transfers to/from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) range from $108 to $169 each way. Salt Spring Air also provides year-round service from Vancouver and YVR to Maple Bay near Duncan and to the Pat Bay Seaplane Base, just west of Victoria International Airport (YYJ).
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